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It's Child's Play

Yoga For Little Ones

What do you do when your private client is making loud fart noises with their mouth during sivasana? Consider the session a raging success! In most scenarios this would not be the case, but when you start to work with boys under the age of twelve, fart noises are good. When you’re eight, this is all you can reasonably contribute after an hour long session of family yoga. Fart noises, or a quiet kid with their eyes closed, it doesn’t matter. A kid comfortable enough to be themselves during yoga is a success.

Very often when I teach at a yoga studio I’m met with super serious faces, stern, no smiling meditators and people lying flat on their backs, eyes closed, decompressing from a stressful day. As a lover of quiet time, I deeply appreciate the sanctity of stillness. But when it comes to creating emotional balance in the practice? Smiling and laughter are not only needed, they’re necessary!

My younger clients remind me of this. Three rambunctious boys filled with smiles, energy, and fearlessness keep me in the moment more than any eloquently worded yoga quote ever could. Why? Because they literally are in the moment, nowhere else. They are so present and alive, it’s like being around human espresso shots! I’m left with a brimming buzz of happiness after being around them. At the end of our first class, their mom asked what they thought.

I was about to get brutally honest, unbridled feedback. As a teacher, this is a gift. Most adults won’t straight up tell you their thoughts for any number of polite, social reasons.Kids don’t pull punches. The social filters are yet to be installed.

“I liked it!!”

“It was fun!!”

“Can we do it again??”

I was happy, and shocked! Considering half the session involved making animal noises and running out of the room to go peeeeee…..In hindsight, it was a blast. Rolling on the floor laughing, making our bodies move in weird, new ways.

I feel the wonderful irony of spending ten plus years on the mat trying to retrain my mind to be present, when some kids do it as easily as most adults breathe. This is why I remind myself and students, “Yoga is about teaching ourselves how to be kids again.” To live with unbridled joy, wonder, a willingness to be open, to learn new things, and pretend to be animals.

Think about it. How can we take ourselves so seriously in a yoga class when we’re in crow, camel, cow, cat, and crane pose to name a few? It’s the physical rendition of “Old Macdonald” acted out like a sweaty, interpretive dance on a sticky mat. The need for quiet contemplation is not negated but instead complemented by the need to bring laughter and the freshness of youth to the practice.

So the next time you feel the face getting intense in chair pose, eyebrows starting to frown in warrior two, or thoughts starting to linger on adult worries during sivasana, picture a young boy, giggling, making loud, wet fart noises while rolling himself up in a yoga mat like a human burrito. I dare you not to smile.